Writing is art, publishing is business. But getting a title for a book of 18 years is the real stress. In the heat of the revolving inspiration that led to this engrossing piece, Olukorede Sadiq Yishau had first gone with “the Prophet.” “It was too direct,” he says, so he renamed it “Angels live in Heaven,” afterwards he stuck with “In the name of the Father.” But the award winning Editor wasn’t done with finding a suitable title yet. So a month to publication in 2018, a Google Search revealed that “In the name of the Father” was already taken. This time, it was in a 1993 American movie bearing the exact same title.
That was where he replaced the definite article with possessive pronoun, “our.” This was different from a Somalia novel, “In the name of our Fathers,” which dealt with ancestors. Call it a near miss even though it has no copyright implication.
So far the book has grossed 6,000 copies sold. “How to do that was no mean feat,” Yishau responds. “It was a matter of leveraging your networks. Besides, not many authors count copies sold by the ones being sold off the shelves,” he counters. The book is quite gripping. The inspiration was from one of the night diaries of the Source magazine back in the day. It used to be for reporters until the audience got a chance to tell their own tales. That was where the character of T.C Jeremiah, the prophet was unveiled.
The book is truly engrossing. The events are like a rollercoaster, or better described as punch lines dropping from a mouth of a rap star with each word, diction and line carefully tailored to jolt you in the end. One moment, a journalist, Justus Omoeko gets threatened, then his fiancée is roped into the mud and before you say Jack, the relationship ends. Before Prophet Jeremiah is unveiled, his foil is revealed in Alani. The moment he is responsible for the death of a 21 year old, the true demon grows.
The book is gripping. It tells the tale of three men. Two are cons while the last one is the narrator-journalist, who is the umpire. The two cons are driven by the same theme- greed, avarice, as motivation and cold-stone-hearted-betrayal as payback. While one con is a pastor who performs miracles by fetish means, the other is a dictator that will consult a million marabouts to hold on to power. When these two men meet, only one thing gives way- masses hard-earned money (taxes), cruelty, and die-hard ambition. They both imagine a life where each party wins. However, two cons cannot deceive each other forever. One must oust the other. The Prophet now renamed the evil prophet would not go gentle in the good night and so he concocts a final link, roping the umpire of this story in a mess that leaves, Justus wishing for his own death at the hands of the military.
Justus survives, even though the audience wonders if he will be truly sane again.
Not many authors think of their readers. Yishau is of the opinion that the book is for 17 year olds and above. The author is fascinated with the military regime and uncomfortable with people who sublet their lives to men of God (hence the significance of the title). It is also an attack on people giving Christianity a bad name. Like the prophet who sacrifices an 8 day baby to his gods, (for instance), as well as the hypocrisy done in the name of modern day religion- Christianity and Islam. This is not because of his name, Olukorede Yishau. “Many people have called me a Muslim,” he says. On the contrary, Yishau is a Christian. So this is not a matter of religious superiority.
The books ropes both Christian and Muslim faithfuls who profess the name of God in public but bow down to lesser gods and sacrifice little children to renew might, for miraculous purposes. “The book is available on Amazon Kindle for $3, Okada Books for #800,” Yishau notes. He is more concerned about the 17 year olds who would love to read the book and cannot have it. That is why he has been looking to secure more avenues for donors to buy these books and distribute on literary days. “Not many people can cough out #3,000 or #5,000 to just buy one book,” he hints. Young people are reading but are not buying, hence his concern. “Give ten people free and check thereafter, at least five would have read it,” he authoritatively says. Little wonder they are his target market- the University graduates and young school leavers. The ones who most possibly got a copy of the book for free. Hence the social media publicity and the consecutive book contests by Parresia Publishers.
This grim reality is true and possibly the reason reading culture is dying in Nigeria. “Most of these people will read the book and give feedback if it is free,” Yishau says. Hence his motivation to get more copies out there. So far, the book has generated millions of royalties from a seed of 5 million. Yishau is very careful here to start dishing figures.
On the surface, “In the name of our Father” is an attack on faith-based religions alien to the Traditional West African culture. By extension, “In the name of our Father” is a reflection of everything gone wrong on the Nigerian scene now and for the past 50 years. A country is in turmoil, yet the dictator is unperturbed- his major concern is how to hold on to power eternally. Spate of crisis and fresh attacks continue to rip the country apart but the General has no time for meeting his service chiefs. He dismisses his Inspector General of Police for a “fake” prophet and when that doesn’t work, he tortures a dutiful reporter who metaphorically predicts doomsday.
As per publishing strategy, Yishau did customised versions of the book with people’s name. His motive for writing the book is to arouse the society to think about its ills and heal itself. “At this stage for me, it is not about the money. I haven’t really bothered about knowing how much has been made. But whatever we have invested in this book, we must have recouped.”
In the name of our Father does a pleasant job of telling as opposed to the descriptive nature of creative works. It sums up creative writing from a journalist’s eye and this is evident in the way the stories end abruptly and build up to the next action. Maybe Yishau is trying tell the audience that less is more and overtly painting a scene is too much.
This is definitely not early retirement for the award winning author. He promises to stay true to his first love- journalism. But we are to expect “Someone skating on thin Ice next.” “It is a sort of sequel,” Yishau reveals, “but it dwells on global issues like health, racism and most importantly, love.”